Stern unveils models of new colleges

School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 unveiled his designs for Yale’s two new residential colleges on Thursday, presenting two structures that reflect a sampling of Gothic styles from across Yale’s campus.

At a ceremony held in the Memorabilia Room of Sterling Memorial Library, Stern presented models for the 13th and 14th colleges. The two colleges, which will together house over 800 students, were intended to resemble the original eight colleges designed by James Gamble Rogers 1889.

Architectural models of the two new residential colleges were on display in the Sterling Memorial Library Memorabilia Room.  The new colleges are shown in the foreground, with the rest of central campus visible in the distance.
Caroline Minkus
Architectural models of the two new residential colleges were on display in the Sterling Memorial Library Memorabilia Room. The new colleges are shown in the foreground, with the rest of central campus visible in the distance.

Stern said the new colleges, set for construction at the southwest corner of Prospect and Sachem Streets, could open their doors to students in 2015 or the year after. But that timetable depends on the University’s ability to raise or borrow funds in the midst of a recession.

“The only issue now is money,” Stern said.

The drawings and the scale model on display were largely consistent with the renderings of the colleges that were leaked on the Internet two weeks ago, when an artist commissioned by Stern’s architectural firm posted sketches of the project to his personal Web site.

The dramatic juxtaposition of low elements and high elements, as found in the two-story internal-wings and the four multi-story towers, should “announce the colleges,” Stern said. And while the initial plans lack the heavy detailing present in the existing colleges, Stern assured his audience: “There’ll be more quirkiness as we work out the design.”

Stern’s design will shy away from the Georgian styles of Timothy Dwight, Pierson and Davenport. Color renderings showed façades of warm red brick and dark colored roofing. He jokingly compared the style to that which can be found at Harvard University, but still defended the bricks, which will feature stone embellishments.

“People think Yale is so much stone. Not so,” he said.

The new colleges, whose plans were approved by the Yale Corporation in April, will feature elements of Gothic architecture from across Yale’s campus. Both will be enclosed by large courtyards, although the south college will also feature additional, smaller courtyards.

The new colleges, which are as yet unnamed, will closely resemble Silliman in size and constitution: both new colleges will house freshmen, and the master’s houses in each will be styled after the Silliman master’s house.

Stern said suites in the new colleges will be composed of “mostly singles.”

The colleges will also host the “full panoply of spaces that exist in today’s residential colleges,” Stern said, although the specific amenities to be offered, such as practice rooms and social areas, have yet to be finalized.

Stern said he hopes the new colleges will help circulate foot traffic around the Grove Street Cemetery. The colleges’ position in the Prospect-Sachem triangle would theoretically shift the center of campus closer to Science Hill.

After the presentation, audience members congregated around the scale model to share thoughts on what they had seen.

Pierson Dean Amerigo Fabbri called the plans “outstanding,” “beautiful,” and “frustrating to wait for.” Geoffrey Little, communications coordinator for the University’s library, praised Stern’s “bold and ambitious design.”

Said Daniel Harrison GRD ’86, chair of the music department: “I was skeptical of the placement of the colleges behind the cemetery, but now I’m pretty sold. A lot of people are going to be up there.”

Fundraising efforts for the new colleges, which will cost about $600 million, are ongoing. Administrators have said that they will not name the colleges themselves after a donor, but naming rights to some individual sections of the colleges — including an eight-story tower slated to dominate the profile of the northern college — are up for grabs.

The model will be in the Woolsey Rotunda on Friday through Sunday, in the Memorabilia Room on Monday through next Thursday, and back in the Woolsey Rotunda on June 5th through June 7th.

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